Airline Division News, Week Ending July 30, 2010

Labor Alliance Announced, Historic First for the Industry

Citing the need to fight for the workers who care about the airline industry and the traveling public, on July 27th, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations joined with the Teamsters and announced the creation of a historic aviation labor alliance to combine and coordinate lobbying efforts on airline safety and security.

The new group, named the American Aviation Labor Alliance (AALA), is a formal partnership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (CAPA), which together represent a combined total of more than 140,000 aviation workers.

“We are leading the fight that workers care about in the airline industry,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “As the American Aviation Labor Alliance, we will speak on the most pressing aviation issues facing our membership and the public with one strong voice.”

“The airline industry is under intense financial and competitive pressure and as a result, we believe that security and safety standards are being weakened,” said TWU President James C. Little. “Combining our lobbying efforts will allow us to push for legislation that will insure both diligence and vigilance.”

In addition to membership by the independent pilot unions at American Airlines, US Airways and Southwest Airlines, CAPA also has Teamster pilot locals at ABX Air, Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo, Kalitta Air and Southern Air and the pilots of UPS as members.

“CAPA wants to work with all labor organizations to enhance safety and improve the working conditions of airline employees across our industry,” said their President Paul Onorato.  When asked why ALPA, the other union that represents pilots in the U.S. was not included, Onorato said, “the alliance had a meeting with Air Line Pilots Association President John Prater, but he was not interested in joining.” Onorato also gave credit for the creation of the alliance to Teamsters Airline Division Director David Bourne who pushed for unions to speak with one voice, a plan that was given the go-ahead by Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.

The first task for the AALA will be passage of the FAA Reauthorization bill that Congress is expected to finish during the current session. This comprehensive aviation bill deals with a range of issues related to the FAA, including security and safety requirements for overseas repair bases, and rules related to pilot training. In addition to the FAA Reauthorization Bill, bankruptcy reform will be a major focus.

The new alliance is significant because the participating unions are affiliated with different labor federations or are independent, and they are joining forces to influence labor issues that affect their members and the airline industry as a whole. The AALA will continue to build alliances with other labor organizations in the future.

In speaking of the new alliance, Airline Division Director David Bourne said, “Without the strong support of General President Hoffa, we would not be here today. His vision of unity and the willingness of the TWU and CAPA to stand together with us as one, with a shared vision of improving the airline industry for our employees and the traveling public, are responsible for creating this historic alliance.”

Airline CEO Meets with Airline Division Director in DC, Discusses the Future

Alfonso Rey, Chairman of Centurion Air Cargo, whose pilots are represented by Local 769 met this Thursday in Washington, D.C., at International Brotherhood of Teamsters Headquarters with Airline Division Director David Bourne.

Accompanied by Local 769 President Mike Scott and Business Agent Daisy Gonzalez; Chairman Rey and Centurion Vice President of Flight Operations and Maintenance Johnny Million had the opportunity to tour the International headquarters and meet staffers with Director Bourne and Deputy Director Steve Nagrotsky.

“We’re very pleased and honored to have Mr. Rey join us here in Washington to take a tour of our offices and gain a better understanding of what we do for our membership,” said Division Director David Bourne. “We were pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate him on the groundbreaking for the MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facility he is also constructing in Miami.

“The South Florida community is fortunate to have this true business visionary investing in their future,” Bourne said. “It is business leaders like Mr. Rey who recognize the value of investing in their community and in the expertise of American workers.”   

Airline Division, UAL Sign Agreement Hailed As, “Tremendous Victory for Labor and Management”

Late Friday afternoon, Teamsters Airline Division Director Captain David Bourne and United Senior Vice President for Services James Keenan announced an agreement that addressed a series of issues that the parties have held discussions on for several months.

Because of the significant contributions made by the employees of the Maintenance Division, United has achieved dramatic improvements in on-time performance, cabin cleanliness, condition and workability, customer satisfaction and safety while also beginning the long road to restoring the airlines financial health and competitiveness.

As part of a process to move forward into the next stage of United’s growth and well being, both the IBT and United agreed to try a new approach designed to help secure United’s future competitiveness.   A direct result working relationship and good faith by both labor and management that has occurred over the past two years, it was agreed that a fresh start was in order.

Effective Friday, July 30th, United Services  announced it will rescind all 14Gs and Levels recorded for dependability before July 30, 2010 for all IBT-represented mechanics within the United Services Maintenance Division.   Likewise, the IBT will withdraw and remove all grievances associated with the 14Gs and Levels. 

In addition, it was announced that 14G records will no longer remain active for 24 months but will now expire after 12 months and that moving forward, engagement with individual employees and decisions regarding joint counseling and discipline will reside with that employee’s Supervisor or Manager. 

Finally, United Services leadership and IBT leadership have agreed to proactively, cooperatively and compassionately reduce employee absenteeism to an industry-competitive rate.

“This agreement is a tremendous victory for both labor and management, hopefully setting a new standard for how we can work together for common benefit,” said Airline Director David Bourne. “I cannot begin to express the depth of my appreciation to Jim Keenan and his team and especially want to thank the tireless efforts of all the members of the Airline Division team; the International representatives and especially the Local representatives, who have worked so hard for their members. Each and every one is a credit to their membership, the IBT and United Airlines. We will also continue to work with management to achieve the same positive results for the GQ and PV personnel,” he went on to say.

A copy of the agreement is being sent to each affected member.

AAWW Signs New Five Year Agreement to Provide 747-8 Freighters

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, whose pilots are represented by Local 1224 of the Airline Division, announced today that its 49%-owned UK subsidiary, Global Supply Systems Limited (GSS), has signed a five-year wet leasing agreement with British Airways Plc to operate three next-generation Boeing 747-8 freighters  to be operated on behalf of British Airways starting in 2011.

Under the terms of the agreement, GSS will provide a long term contract for British Airways World Cargo (BWAC), supplying the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) under the outsourcing contract. GSS will be leasing the new 747-8F aircraft from AAWW’s Atlas Air unit, which expects to take delivery of the aircraft from Boeing in early 2011.

“We’re pleased to see that the company has concluded their first agreement placing this tremendous aircraft with one of their long standing customers,” said Stephen Richards, co- chairman of the AAWW TEC. “While we obviously would have been thrilled to have the first aircraft here for our pilots, we are confident that this first placement will bring Atlas even more customers who will want the enhanced efficiencies that the -8F brings to the marketplace, and we know our pilots will be flying those aircraft.”

“What is yet unknown is where the company plans to place the three 747-400 aircraft currently at GSS that these new aircraft will replace,” Richards said. “We look forward to discussing that with the company in the coming days.”

Unfair Labor Practices Suit Continues against Amerijet

Citing a refusal by Amerijet management to honor the contract they signed following a contentious strike last year by pilots who demanded among other things; the basic dignity of a toilet on their aircraft, an unfair labor practices lawsuit has been filed by Local 769, on behalf of the Amerijet pilots.

“Since the day we signed the contract, management has refused to honor a legal document with their signatures on it,” said Daisy Gonzalez, Local 769 Business Agent for the pilots of Amerijet. “In addition to the punitive firing of a crewmember during the strike, this past week we have had to file an additional five grievances over willful contract violations. It is clear by any standard that this management had no intention of honoring the contract from Day One. They just wanted to get their airplanes flying,” she went on to say.

Depositions of management officials took place last week and a hearing on the suit is currently scheduled for November 8th.

Airline Division Aviation Safety Coordinator Selected for FAA Rule-Making Committee

Airline Division Aviation Safety Coordinator, Captain Russ Leighton, has been selected to serve on an FAA Aviation Rule-making Committee (ARC).  The mission of this ARC is to set new minimum standards for FAA Part 121 certificated flight crewmembers who operate for airlines. 

Recent accidents and incidents have created a public and governmental furor, causing the FAA to reconsider whether a pilot having a solely an FAA Commercial certificate, with an Instrument rating, and 250 hours of flight experience, has sufficient experience to operate for a passenger airline, or whether or not each pilot flying for an airline should hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license.  Both the IBT Airline Division and the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations (CAPA) have questioned the wisdom of the lower minimum standard for years. 

“Today’s new-hire, entry level candidates, step into a complex jet, or turbo-prop aircraft, operate in a crowded airspace system, fly CAT II or III instrument approaches in very marginal weather at busy airports, and work more hours than ever before.  We believe that experience is the most important teacher there is, we also realize that a random number of hours, without specific training requirements, will not accomplish the goal of best preparing the entry-level candidate,” said Leighton.  “We hope the ARC will be able to find the proper mix of advanced training requirements and old fashion experience that will enable new pilots to perform their duties as safely and professionally as possible,” he continued. 

Captain Leighton, a pilot for ABX Air, and a member of Local 1224, will be serving on the committee with Jeff Skiles, Vice President of CAPA, who was the First Officer from US Airways Flight 1549, that  successfully ditched in the Hudson River.

Republic ExCo Election Results Announced

The recent balloting for regularly scheduled elections has ended with the results announced today. Over 70% of the membership cast votes and elected Patrick Gannon as ExCo Chairman, with James Clark, Michael Dee, Nathan Kyser and Shawn Ryan elected as ExCo members.

When notified of the results, Airline Division Director David Bourne said, “I want to congratulate the new ExCo on their victory. I’d also like to thank each member who offered their time and service who ran and offered of themselves, and the membership who voted. It is this elective process that is so important to who we are.”

“I look forward to speaking with the new ExCo soon and inviting them to Washington to show them firsthand what the Airline Division has to offer them to help their transition as new officers, and in services for their members,” he concluded.  

Arrow Air Bankruptcy Hearings Continue, Local 1224 Reps to Attend for Pilots

Representatives of Local 1224, who represent Arrow Air pilots that have lost their jobs as a result of the company’s filing for bankruptcy, will be in attendance at the next scheduled bankruptcy hearing in Miami on August 4th. John Liebenow, Local 1224 Business Agent, who represents the Arrow Air pilots and Stuart Goldstein, the legal counsel selected by Local 1224 to represent the crewmembers, will be in attendance.

Week In Review News Items

Labor News

Three unions that represent airline workers say they will work together to lobby for tighter aircraft-maintenance rules and protection for workers whose airlines file for bankruptcy protection. The Teamsters, the Transport Workers Union and Coalition of Airline Pilots Association say they represent more than 140,000 airline workers. The unions said they would focus first on a wide-ranging bill to reauthorize FAA. U.S.-based workers want standards imposed on overseas repair bases, which they view as a threat to U.S. jobs. 

American Airlines is transforming the passenger experience on some of its most widely used aircraft. At great expense and thousands of hours of labor, mechanics at American’s Maintenance & Engineering Center in Tulsa are refurbishing cabins and upgrading passenger amenities of 76 older Boeing 737-800s. “It’s a huge project,” said Sattar Hussein, American’s technical crew chief overseeing the 737 modifications. “This is probably the biggest refurbishing mod we have ever done on any aircraft in any fleet.

Legislative, Safety & Regulatory  

Far-reaching aviation safety legislation developed in response to a deadly commuter airline crash in western New York last year was approved by the House late Thursday. The safety measures are an attempt to force airlines to hire more experienced pilots, investigate their previous employment more thoroughly and train them better. It would require a major overhaul of rules governing pilot work schedules to prevent fatigue. Senate passage is expected Friday. 

Lawmakers will probably need to pass another extension to fund FAA as negotiations on a final bill stall out. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told The Hill on Tuesday that an extension appeared inevitable because of disagreements over adding long-distance slots at Reagan National Airport.

Airline Industry Finances & Structure

Worldwide international air travel demand grew by nearly 12 percent in June, IATA reported on Wednesday, noting particular strength in Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American traffic. IATA, however, warned the pace of traffic recovery could slow in the coming months. Though below the average worldwide rate, international traffic on North American airlines grew nearly 11 percent in June, while European carriers continue to lag those in all other regions. 

British Airways still expects to break even in the full year, despite reporting wider first quarter losses due to the impact of volcanic ash and strike-related disruption…low-cost airline Southwest Airlines reported a second-quarter profit that surpassed expectations, buoyed by strengthening consumer demand and lower-than-expected costs. Southwest said it saw record traffic levels in the second quarter and expected “strong” growth in unit revenue in the third quarter based on current traffic and revenue trends. 


Indianapolis International Airport will be the first in the country to launch a rebranded version of the nationwide registered-traveler program that once had thousands of members until it shut down a year ago…the proposed merger of United and Continental cleared its first regulatory hurdle on Tuesday, as the European Union said it would approve the deal…United and Continental on Tuesday named the executives who will run what would be the world’s largest airline…good times are finally back for the nation’s airlines. For travelers, that means it’s getting harder to find bargains…boarding a plane without an agent to inspect or take your pass has arrived in the USA. Continental has confirmed it’s testing the procedure at a gate at its hub in Houston Intercontinental. 

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